Brueghel, Peter

, called Old Brueghel, to distinguish him from his son, was the first of a family of eminent artists. He was born at Brueghel, a village near Breda, in 1510, and acquired the first principles of his art from Peter Cock, or Koeck-van-Aelst, whose daughter he married. He afterwards travelled in France and Italy; studied nature, amidst the mountains of Tyrol, and the scenery of the Alps; and availed himself of the works of the greatest masters in Italy. On his return from Italy, he resided for some time at Antwerp, and from thence he removed to Brussels. Whilst he was employed by the magistrates of this city, in taking views of the canal which fails into the Scheldt, he sickened, and died in 1570; after having caused to be burned in his presence, all his licentious and satirical designs. He chiefly excelled in landscapes, and droll subjects, re sembling those of Jerom Bosche; and he was particularly fond of representing the marches of armies, robberies, skirmishes, sports, dances, weddings, and drunken quarrels; and in order to acquire greater skill and accuracy in this kind of representations, he often assumed the habit of a peasant, and joined the meaner boors at their feasts and. amusements. His figures were correct, and their | draperies well chosen; the heads and hands were touched with spirit; and his expression, though not elegant, was true. Sir Joshua Reynolds says, that “he was totally ignorant of all the mechanical art of making a picture;” hut there is in his “Slaughter of the Innocents” (which sir Joshua saw in his travels), a great quantity of thinking, a representation of variety of distress, enough for twenty modern pictures. His principal performance is in the emperor’s collection at Vienna, which is the “Representation of the building of the tower of Babel, by Nimrod.” Several of his paintings are in the cabinets of the emperor and elector palatine, and dispersed through various parts of Europe. For his amusement he engraved some few landscapes and grotesque subjects. 1


Pilkington. —Strutt. Argenville, vol. III. —Descamps. Sir J. Reynolds’s Works, vol. II. p. 403.